Back in the early 2000’s, the bishops of Australia could see that the Catholic Church in Australia needed to consider moving towards a national Church event, or celebration, to give the Catholic Church in Australia a course to move into the future. Over ten years on, the bishops decided to move towards a ‘Plenary Council’.
The word ‘plenary’ means whole Church. The Plenary Council involves the whole Church in two ways:
- The prompt for this council came from the Holy Spirit
- The event needs to involve the whole church – not just some of the Church – but the whole Church!
The Plenary Council is a gathering of the whole Church, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, gathered together to make decisions about how the Church in Australia will chart it’s course forward into the future. So the whole Church of Australia is on a journey – trying to listen to the Holy Spirit to see what the Spirit is saying to us about the future.
Of course, involving the whole Church also means involving the pope. The pope needed to give consent for the Plenary Council to take place, and of course the pope will need to approve of any decisions that will be made to ensure they are in ‘harmony with the universal Church’s doctrine and discipline.’ Archbishop Mark Coleridge (Vice-President Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)
The journey has begun already and is well into the first of three phases – Preparation.
The following two phases are Celebration and Implementation.